Recently, I was chatting with a young lady about Bourne End’s rich history & mentioned that Enid Blyton used to live in Coldmoorholme Lane. I was speechless when she asked “Who was Enid Blyton?”
With that in mind, I decided to write a few words on Enid Blyton’s years at Old Thatch in Bourne End.
Enid was born in 1897 to Thomas & Theresa Blyton in East Dulwich, London. She began writing in her early teenage years & in 1911 her work was first published when she was 14 years old.
Enid married Hugh Pollock in 1924 & in August 1929 they moved to Old Thatch in Coldmoorholme Lane.
Old Thatch is a 16th century thatched cottage with beautiful gardens close to the River Thames, Enid described it as “fairy tale” cottage with a lychgate at the entrance to the property.
On trying to research the cottage, I had difficulty in finding anything other than Enid’s years there, but I did find reference to a Beer House, a Pub & an Inn (one being called The Rose & Crown) & the story goes that Dick Turpin had slept there on a few occasions. It is also rumoured that there is treasure buried in the garden.
From a young age I had imagined Enid Blyton to be a wonderful, kind lady & the ideal Mother, purely due to the fact that she wrote for children. But the more I looked, the more I had my mental picture ruined as it appears she was a cold hearted, adulteress. The Daily Mail has reported this & more, quoting her as barking mad! She was also portrayed as this in the BBC drama “Enid”. Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Enid was quoted as saying “I was attracted to the role because she was bonkers. She was an emotional mess and quite barking mad”.
Famous for a variety of books including Noddy, Famous Five & Secret Seven, Enid was often inspired by the local surroundings & beautiful rural location of Bourne End. When reading “The Burnt Cottage” it is obvious that the cottage that caught fire was in fact Old Thatch.
Curiosity compelled me to read sections of Barbara Stoney’s book, “Enid Blyton, The Biography” in order to find any reference to the area or family names that are perhaps still in the Bourne End area today. On page 81 Enid describes the day that her first child, Gillian was born on 15th July 1931.
“….Dr. Poles delivered baby and Dr. Bailey gave chloroform. I came round about 7 feeling very hungry and comfortable….”
On page 85 there is a reference to the chauffeur & gardener, Dick Hughes who lived in a cottage within the grounds with his wife & 6 children. It would be interesting to hear if the Hughes that lived in Bourne End during my childhood are related at all?
When Enid’s second child, Imogen was born in October 1935, Enid employed maternity nurse Dorothy Richards. Unmarried Dorothy & Enid found they had many interests in common & became close friends. Dorothy visited often but in time, their friendship would become another story for the press, suggesting that they were in fact lovers.
Back to today & the current owner of Old Thatch, Jacky Hawthorne has opened her beautiful gardens to the public for years. Many people have enjoyed walking through the various flowers bed & winding paths knowing this was Enid’s inspiration for many of her stories but the gardens are now sadly, closed permanently to the public.
During the early 60’s, Enid was suffering with dementia & died aged 71 on 28th November 1968 after living at Green Hedges in Beaconsfield for 30 years.